Ph.D. Admissions FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

General Questions

Who is eligible for the Ph.D. program?

The doctoral program at the School of Information is highly interdisciplinary, so a wide range of backgrounds and professional experience can be a good fit. We recommend exploring our research areas page to become familiar with the type of work our I School community conducts, and to ensure that your research goals align with the I School and our ladder faculty (professor, associate professor, and assistant professor).

​​Do I need a master’s degree to apply to the Ph.D. program?

No, we do not require a master’s degree to apply to our Ph.D. program. Students with a bachelor’s degree can apply directly to the Ph.D. program.

Can this program be completed online or part-time?

No, the Ph.D. program is a full-time and on-campus program only. A full-time course workload for Berkeley graduate students is 12 units per semester.

Can I apply for spring admission?

No, the Ph.D. program accepts applications for fall admission only.

Do you offer rolling admissions?

No, admissions is not rolling. All applications are reviewed together as a pool after the application deadline, and all admissions decisions are released at the same time by early February.

Will I be notified when my application is complete?

Yes, after we process your application materials, you will receive an email stating that your application is complete and ready for review. Or, if you are missing application materials, we will share that information with you.

When should I expect an admissions decision?

After your application is determined to be ready for review, we will begin our holistic, thorough review process. Each file will be carefully examined by our admissions committee of I School faculty and staff. This comprehensive review will take place during December and January, and admissions decisions will be released by early February.

My application status page indicates that I am missing an application item. How do I resolve this?

After you submit your application, our system will not allow you to directly upload additional materials. You will need to email admissions@ischool.berkeley.edu with your material(s), and the admissions team will upload it for you. Material receipt will then be updated on your status page application checklist.

Can I update my application materials after I submit my application?

After you submit your application, we will only accept updates to missing materials. That said, if you have any significant changes after the application deadline (i.e., updated publications or conferences, paper acceptances, etc.), please share this with us at admissions@ischool.berkeley.edu.

If I am reapplying, can I reuse materials from my previous application?

Yes, you may use previous application materials in your reapplication, but it may be in your best interest to share up-to-date information and materials with us.

You do not need to resend your TOEFL, IELTS, and/or GRE scores unless they are now expired.

If you choose to reuse your previous recommendation letters, please complete the relevant recommender fields, and select Save. After selecting Save, please send an update to admissions@ischool.berkeley.edu, and the admissions team will upload your previous letters directly to your application.

Do you offer application fee waivers?

Yes, eligible Ph.D. applicants can request an application fee waiver from UC Berkeley’s Graduate Division or the I School if they demonstrate financial need, serve(d) in the military, or participate(d) in an eligible pipeline program. Please be sure to request a fee waiver before submitting your application. We cannot issue fee waivers retroactively for applications that have already been paid for and submitted.

Should I apply to the MIMS program first, as preparation for the Ph.D.?

The MIMS program is not intended to serve as preparation for our Ph.D. program. The MIMS program is intended to teach the skills necessary for professional practice in various information-related careers; the Ph.D. program, on the other hand, is designed to prepare you for an academic or research career.

If I am not accepted to the I School’s Ph.D. program, will I automatically be considered for admission to the MIMS program?

No. Because the educational goals and outcomes of each program differ, the admissions processes are completely separate.

Ph.D. Applicant Feedback Program

What is the I School Applicant Feedback Program?

The I School Applicant Feedback Program aims to assist underrepresented students as they apply to our Ph.D. program. The I School Applicant Feedback Program is an initiative run by I School Ph.D. students and is specifically intended for Ph.D. applicants from communities that have historically been underrepresented in higher education. This includes, but is not limited to: BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), non-cisgender individuals, members of the LGBTQIA+/queer community, individuals with disabilities, first-generation college students, and individuals from low-income backgrounds. Applicants may receive one round of meaningful written feedback on their resume and application essays from a current Ph.D. student. Participating in the I School Applicant Feedback Program is completely voluntary and is separate from the Ph.D. admissions process.

To participate, please submit your application materials to this form by 11:59 pm PST on November 15, 2021. The Ph.D. students will do their best to return written feedback to the email address you provide within a week. Of course, they do have a finite capacity, so essays will be reviewed on a first come, first serve basis. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Lauren Chambers (lauren.chambers@berkeley.edu) or Suraj Nair (suraj.nair@berkeley.edu).

Academic Records and Documents

My academic institution is not listed in the drop down menu in the Academic History section. What should I do?

If you cannot find your academic institution in the drop down menu, try typing in a unique word from your institution name to check if that automatically populates the institution. If that does not work, you may manually write in your institution name. You must include “Dates Attended” to save the academic institution to your application.

My GPA is not on a 4.0 scale. Do I need to convert it or submit a GPA calculation worksheet?

No, instead of converting your GPA to a 4.0 scale, please leave the "Grade Point Averages (GPA)" field (under "Grades”) blank. Our admissions committee is knowledgeable about international transcripts and how to evaluate grades and performance.

My grades were impacted by COVID-19 or changed to a P/NP grading policy. How will the I School review these grades?

The I School evaluates applications holistically, meaning that we consider an applicant’s combination of professional, academic, and personal experiences and accomplishments, letters of recommendation, statements, and academic record in our admissions decisions. Such a review takes into account the significant disruptions of COVID-19 when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials. And, we understand that many institutions across the country instituted P/NP grading policies during Spring 2020.

Do I need to upload official transcripts with my application?

No, you may submit unofficial transcripts (scanned copies or screenshots). Unofficial transcripts must include your full name, grades, cumulative GPA, degree conferred/awarded information, and institution name. If you are admitted to the Ph.D. program and decide to enroll, UC Berkeley Graduate Division will require that you submit official documents in your first term.

What if I am currently in school or have not completed my degree?

Please upload your current unofficial transcripts to your application. Your unofficial transcripts must include grades from your most recently completed semester/quarter. If you are admitted to the Ph.D.. program and decide to enroll, UC Berkeley Graduate Division will require that you submit official transcripts and degree certificates/conferral (if applicable) that include degree awarded/conferred information. Per UC Berkeley Graduate Division eligibility requirements, you must complete your undergraduate degree before you are eligible to begin Ph.D.

Do I need to submit a degree certificate/conferral?

If your transcript does not include official evidence of your awarded degree, you must submit additional documents that verify your degree conferral. Institutions from the following countries must submit a bachelor’s degree certificate/conferral with their transcripts: China, India, Pakistan, Iran, most European and Latin American countries.

For applicants with degrees from China: UC Berkeley Graduate Division accepts English-only transcripts, but requires that you submit degree certificates/conferrals in both Chinese and English (translated directly from the academic institution or an ATA-certified translator).

Please reach out to admissions@ischool.berkeley.edu if you have questions about this requirement.

If I received transfer credits from another institution, do I need to submit that transcript?

You are required to submit transfer credit transcripts if 9 or more credits were applied towards your degree. This transcript can be unofficial.

Are there requirements for English translations of academic documents?

Yes. Translations must come directly from the academic institution or an ATA-certified translator. Translations from WES, translations agencies, individuals, and ATA-certified corporations are not acceptable.

Letters of Recommendation

How do I know if my recommenders have submitted their letters of recommendation?

You will receive an email after your recommender has completed and submitted their letter. You can also confirm receipt by checking your application status page.

My recommenders did not receive a link. How do I proceed?

This is a common issue for recommenders who have business email addresses that filter out .edu email addresses. Ask your recommender to check their spam folder for an email from gradadm@berkeley.edu. If they cannot find the email, you have two options: 1) Go back into your application and choose to “exclude” your recommender. Then, re-enter the recommender information, using their personal email address. 2) Email their name(s) to us at admissions@ischool.berkeley.edu, and we will send them a personal email link.

How do I follow up with my recommenders?

After sending the initial invitation to your recommenders, you may send reminder emails via the “Recommendations” page which you can find linked at the bottom of your application status page. You may continue to send reminders after you submit your application.

Can I submit my application if my recommenders have not yet submitted their letters?

Yes, you may submit your application before your letters of recommendation have been submitted.

Can I add recommendations after I have submitted my application?

You may add recommenders if you have not already had three letters submitted to your application. You can add recommenders via the “Recommendations” page linked at the bottom of your application status page.

Can we use a personal email address for our recommender?

Yes, if your recommender can no longer access their business email address, you may enter their personal email address.

Can I use Interfolio for my recommendations?

Yes, Interfolio will provide you with a specific email address for each letter that can be entered into the recommendation field.

Am I required to submit a GRE score with my application?

No, the GRE exam is no longer an application requirement. If you have not yet taken the GRE, we recommend that you put your time and effort towards the required application materials that better reflect your aptitude, strengths, and fit. Read more about our decision to drop the GRE here.

If I self-reported a GRE score in my application, do I need to send an official report via ETS?

Yes, if you would like your self-reported scores to be evaluated, you must officially report your scores to UC Berkeley via the institution code 4833. The official report may take up to 10–15 days to transfer into our system.

My GRE score report shows “awaiting” on my application checklist, but I already sent it to 4833. Have you received it?

GRE score reports take 10-15 days to transfer into our application system. If it has been over 15 days and your status still shows “awaiting,” please contact us at admissions@ischool.berkeley.edu, and we will conduct a manual search for your score report.

Supporting Materials

Do I need to submit writing samples or publications and presentations to the Supporting Materials section of the application?

No. With the exception of the curriculum vitae, all application items listed in the Supporting Materials section are optional. If you choose to submit these optional materials, our admissions committee will review them.

Funding Your Education

What funding resources and opportunities do you provide?

Learn more about Fellowship Packages, grants, and Ph.D. tuition and fees on our Funding Your Ph.D. Education page.

For International Ph.D. Applicants

General

My undergraduate college degree is from a foreign country. Is it equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree?

The Graduate Division determines which degrees are acceptable. Because of the variety of international education systems, there is no single answer. For specific questions, please contact admissions@ischool.berkeley.edu.

Do I need to submit financial documents with my application?

No. Please do not send bank statements or other financial documents with your application. If you are admitted, the Berkeley International Office will contact you to request additional financial documentation.

What visa do I need to study in the U.S.?

Most international students study on an F-1 visa. The F-1 visa is for full-time, non-immigrant students. To be eligible for the F-1 visa, a student must be enrolled full-time, have sufficient funds for self-support, and maintain a residence abroad that the student has no intention of giving up.

More information: Berkeley International Office; US State Department; US Citizenship & Immigration Services

How do I apply for California residency?

International students on an F-1 visa are not eligible for California residency.

Is the Ph.D. program STEM accredited?

Yes, Ph.D. is STEM accredited, and students qualify for up to 36 months of OPT upon graduation.

TOEFL and IELTS Scores

Am I required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores?

Applicants who received their undergraduate degrees in countries other than the U.S., U.K., Australia, or English-speaking Canada are required to complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). This includes applicants with undergraduate degrees from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and most European countries. UC Berkeley Graduate Division does not accept TOEFL ITP Plus for Mainland China, IELTS Indicator, or Duolingo scores. Your most recent score must be at least 90 on the Internet-based TOEFL or at least 7.0 on the IELTS Academic test.

For Fall 2022, tests taken before June 1, 2020 will not be accepted, even if your score was reported to UC Berkeley.

The only way to be exempted from this requirement is if you received a graduate degree from a U.S. university or completed a full year of U.S. university-level coursework as a full-time student with a GPA of B or better.

For more information, see Graduate Division’s Evidence of English Language Proficiency.

Do I need to officially report my TOEFL or IELTS score?

Yes. Although you may submit your application with self-reported TOEFL or IELTS scores, the UC Berkeley Graduate Division requires that you also report official scores, which must come directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). For the TOEFL exam, the school code for UC Berkeley is 4833 and the department code for the I School is 99. It takes 10–15 days for official scores to transfer into our application system, so we recommend that you report your scores well before the application deadline. We also recommend that you make sure the spelling of your name and email address on your exam matches with your Ph.D.. application.

For the IELTS exam, please submit an electronic report from the testing center; no institution code is required. Here is the Graduate Division’s office address for identification purposes: University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall Rm 318, MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720.

Should I upload copies of my TOEFL or IELTS scores to the Supporting Materials section?

No. Test scores must be sent directly from the testing authorities.

Is there a required minimum score for the TOEFL or IELTS exam?

The UC Berkeley Graduate Division requires a score of at least 90 on the TOEFL IBT and 7.0 overall band on the IELTS exam.

How long are TOEFL or IELTS scores valid for admissions purposes?

No more than 18 months may have passed between the TOEFL or IELTS test date and the application deadline. Fall 2023 applicants may not submit test scores taken before June 2021.

Last updated:

April 20, 2022